Canada trade deal lays path for US – but at what cost?
LAST week, the EU agreed a new trade deal with Canada, which we are told will deliver an additional €26bn of trade between the two blocks on an annualised basis.
But what does it mean for Irish agri-business?
The fact is that some of the EU's agri interests were sacrificed in order for more lucrative industries such as pharmaceuticals and construction. Canada will now recognise patents on EU-made drugs for a longer period and open up big public procurement projects such as road building and energy supply to tenders from EU corporations.
In return, the EU has allowed Canada's 80,000 cattle ranchers to export an extra 50,000 tonnes of beef per year into the EU. The Canadian Cattlemens Association said that this could be worth up to €425m a year to the Canadian beef industry.
Growth hormones are used as standard in Canadian beef production, with farmers estimating that the hormones give them an efficiency boost of 20pc.
Beef produced with hormones is illegal in Europe and any Canadian beef exports will have to comply with this requirement.
However, with beef prices on their premium cuts that are up to 40pc lower than average EU prices, there is huge scope for the Canadians to export hormone-free beef into Europe.
Will the Canadians be interested in going head to head with the South Americans, who dominate the EU's annual 200,000 tonnes of beef imports?